Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dig deeply to seek life on Mars

29.01.2007
Probes seeking life on Mars must dig deeply into young craters, gullies, or recently exposed ice to have a chance of finding any living cells that were not annihilated by radiation, researchers report in a new study. One promising place to look for them is within the ice at Elysium, site of a recently discovered frozen sea, they say.

Current probes designed to find life on Mars cannot drill deeply enough to find living cells that may exist well below the surface, according to the study. Although these drills may yet find signs that life once existed on Mars, the researchers say, cellular life could not survive incoming radiation within several meters [yards] of the surface. This puts any living cells beyond the reach of today's best drills.

The study, to be published 30 January in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, maps cosmic radiation levels at various depths, taking into account surface conditions in various areas of Mars. The lead author, Lewis Dartnell of University College London, said: "Finding hints that life once existed--proteins, DNA fragments, or fossils--would be a major discovery in itself, but the Holy Grail for astrobiologists is finding a living cell that we can warm up, feed nutrients, and reawaken for studying."

"Finding life on Mars depends on liquid water surfacing on Mars," Dartnell added, "but the last time liquid water was widespread on Mars was billions of years ago. Even the hardiest cells we know of could not possibly survive the cosmic radiation levels near the surface of Mars for that long."

Unlike Earth, Mars is not protected by a global magnetic field or thick atmosphere, and for billions of years it has been open to radiation from space. The researchers developed a radiation dose model and quantified variations in solar and galactic radiation that penetrates the thin Martian atmosphere down to the surface and underground. They tested three surface soil scenarios and calculated particle energies and radiation doses both on the surface and at various depths underground, allowing them to estimate the survival times of any cells.

The team found that the best places to look for living cells on Mars would be within the ice at Elysium, because the frozen sea is relatively recent--it is thought to have surfaced in the last five million years--and so has been exposed to radiation for a relatively short period of time. Even here, though, any surviving cells would be out of the reach of current drills. Other ideal sites include young craters, because the recently impacted surface has been exposed to less radiation, and gullies recently discovered in the sides of craters. Those channels may have flowed with water in the last five years and brought cells to the surface from deep underground.

The study was funded by the United Kingdom's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research.

Peter Weiss | AGU
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Sun's impact on climate change quantified for first time
27.03.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

nachricht NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow

27.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Clock stars: Astrocytes keep time for brain, behavior

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Sun's impact on climate change quantified for first time

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>